By DAN BROWN The Post contributor | 0 comments
When it comes to this season’s Medina boys rugby team, speed has been key.
And while the Bees are off to a 3-3 start and searching for stability, it’s that quickness to the ball and getting out in the open field that has been the one constant that, when they get it going, makes them one of the toughest teams to stop.
With the combination of sophomore fly-half Josh Bartoe, junior scrum-half Nick Wirtz and sophomore inside center Tyler Wente, Medina could be a tough match-up in the second half of the spring for any team it faces.
“When we are able to spin the ball out, our speed has been on display with long scores and gains of large ground,” Bees coach Stephen Miller said. “It all starts out with our scrummy to fly exchange. If Josh and Nick are on the same page, and we’re getting a good burst by Tyler and support from our outside center and wings, we have had great gains in territory and long scores.”
Benefiting from some of that speed has been junior second row/prop Matt Lucarelli. In the first five games, Lucarelli has registered the second-most points on the team (14) and three conversion kicks, while Wirtz has 20 points and a team-best four tries.
A pair of three-year starters, senior James Long and junior Brandon Hudak, serve as Medina’s captains, joining fellow returnees in seniors Marcus Reyes, Kenny Breeden, Trevor Allen and sophomore Matt Bower. Long, the team’s No. 8 man, has been selected to tryout for the All-Ohio team this summer, along with Wirtz and Wente.
But the Bees also have received some key production out of a pair of sophomore forwards, Derrick Cathcart and Zac Woodrum, providing a spark to the offense, according to Miller.
Medina entered the last full week of April tied for second in the South region of Division II, before dropping a 17-15 heartbreaker to county foe Highland. The team, however, has posted wins over Coventry (22-19), Parma (20-17) and St. Ignatius (17-10) – beating one of the club’s co-founders and current Wildcats coach Bryan Law.
“We need to find a way to stick to our game plan,” said Miller, whose team is 2-3 in regional play. “When we play our style of offense by spinning it out, the results have shown in the win column.”
The Bees have also found key minutes from newcomers as well with seniors Damon Bakos, Thomas Buchtinec, Ryan Blake and Isiah Inman, along with juniors Paul Sinatra Jr., Aaron Vincent and freshman Kevin Lobban.
A total of 45 players are members of the high school club this spring and 14 seventh and eighth graders are a part of the program’s inaugural middle school team, who notched its first win of the season this past week over Highland, 43-39.
“This is a good group of guys that show up, work hard and play as a team,” Miller said. “Most importantly they have fun. The camaraderie that this team has shown early on is promising.”